April 1, 2015

UC Riverside Botanic Gardens Spring Plant Sale, and more

Not UCR. Lowe's, in Redlands.

'Swamped' should have been the title of this post. In a good way: back to work after Spring Break, running to nurseries and plant sales, doing a little flashlight gardening in the warm inland evenings.

Note: what follows is in reverse chronological order.

Tuesday afternoon I ran over to Cherry Valley Nursery to buy some rock, and wound up with a wonderful plant. No, not the lovely Jasminum polyanthum I may spring for someday, but a wonderful hybrid calliandra that sounds perfect on paper:  "It performs best in full sun, and thrives in reflected heat exposures. The stems are hardy to about 18° F and the plant is root hardy to at least 15° F."  Wonderful pale branches. A photo from Flickr:

On Monday I stopped by Lowe's in Redlands to pick up some cleaning supplies. Apparently I arrived right after Altman Plants delivered the biggest order of succulents ever, or so it seemed. Not just agaves, but titanotas! (The titanotas are in the second row, right behind the Kissho Kans in the photo up top.) And Xerosicyos danguyi! I pounced on this one — check out Reuben's great photos of Xerosicyos at the Rancho.

On Sunday I thought deep thoughts about my garden. I love succulent collections, and I love beautiful gardens, and I want my succulent collection to be subsumed within a lovely garden. I love native plants, and want lots of them. I want birds and lizards to be happy here. I like the patio to be free of leaves, and I want to be able to move around, sweep, prune, and water, without impaling myself on spines and without knocking things over. The dogs need a bit of space. And since I spend a lot of time at the cabin each summer, and will spend even more time there when I retire, I need a water-wise garden that doesn't need constant attention. All this in the small, mostly patio, mostly pots, place that I rent. First, I need to do something with those cinder-block plant shelves. Fun project, eh.

Saturday was the UC Riverside Botanic Gardens Spring Plant Sale. If you ever go to one of the UCR sales (and they are super), keep in mind that there are always crowds. Parking is quite a ways from the garden, but there are shuttles to spare you the hike uphill, and kind volunteers at the garden entrance who will watch your plants while you take the shuttle back down to the parking lot, retrieve your vehicle, and return to the entrance to load everything up.

The only glitch on Saturday involved checkout. There are two lines (one for cash/check, and the other for credit cards). The lines always stretch to the moon, and there is always a wait, but this year the pace was really glacial. I had hoped to drive out to Claremont afterwards for the Sage Festival at Rancho Santa Ana, silly me, and so I was in line with my wheelbarrow o' plants by noon.

And there I stayed, for a blazing hot hour and a half. A volunteer — eyes narrow, mouth grim — had warned me that "new people" had devised a "better" system for checkout that was actually much slower than ever before. In any event, by the time I finally reached the front of the line, paid for my plants, fetched my truck, returned to the garden entrance and loaded everything up, it was after 2:00 — and the Sage Festival ended at 3:00. I threw in the towel and headed home.

The wheelbarrow:

Sharkskin agave in the bow, next to a Grevillea 'Canberra Gem.' On the opposite side, Distictis buccinatoria, another Ceanothus 'Concha,' and a Baja Spurge, Euphorbia xanti. In the brown box, two rosemaries, a ruby muhly, Euphorbia 'Dean's Hybrid,' and a Ludisia. (I blame Danger Garden for the Ludisia. Those leaves! It will go up to the cabin as a house plant for the summer.)

Here's the green box:

Some cacti in there. An agave 'Cream Spike' at the bottom next to a little red Adenium obesum. Two aloes: capitata var. quartziticola. Yet another Toumeyana bella, because they are tiny and tough and I love them. A really little Aloe erinacea. And almost hidden up at the top, in the middle, the find of the day: Yucca endlichiana. What a cool plant. Up close:

I should add that I'm taking boxes full of plants to donate to the local CSS at tonight's meeting: sort of a "one comes in, two must leave" kind of tough love. I'm getting a clearer picture of what works and what doesn't in my little patio. Kelly Griffin is tonight's speaker... and of course there will be interesting plants available. [Edited to add: home from work with a bug; may not make meeting. If not, will cry.]


  1. Great plants! I'm exhausted just reading about it all. Hope you made it to the meeting...

    1. [weeps] No, and I'm home from work today. Feel extra sick about missing the meeting. So bummed. If I feel more energetic later, I'll go repot some of the new stuff, so the day won't be a total loss :~/

  2. Wow, what a busy few days--and what a haul! I've never seen so many gallon-size succulents (or even larger?) at Lowe's. Around here it's mostly small plants, often unsuitable for landscaping.

    I agree with what you said about your garden. Like you, I want my collection of plants to be at least partially integrated into the garden as a whole. Not as easy to do as it sounds, especially since you want companion plants, too (just like I do). But somehow, through trial and error and/or sheet perserverance, you'll get to a point where you're happy with what you have.

  3. Gerhard, you're right, it's a challenge -- but a fun one, mostly :~) One thing that has helped, interestingly enough, is garden art. I visited Stephen Penn, who provides a lot of the very cool materials Reuben of Rancho Reubidoux puts to use, and bought a few things, and love the way they change the look of the yard. I think it looks more like (ahem) a real garden now, and less like the succulent area of a nursery -- funny how some rocks and a little industrial salvage can have that effect...! Now if only there were a magical way to make ceanothus get huge overnight...


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